Whether you deliberate which major to declare for the school you apply to or already work and feel unfulfilled in your current job, programming is probably there on the table as a possible career route to take. It is a growing industry with great prospects and decent salaries, which also has a certain alluring Silicon Valley flair to it, so it’s a no-brainer.
However, many people hesitate at the door and doubt their ability to succeed in coding because they lack certain traits that make a good programmer. They think, “What if programming is not for me?”
Let’s get it right out of the way here and now. Programming is for everyone. It’s a skill not unlike reading, writing, or arithmetic. Yes, there will inevitably be difficulties and roadblocks, but nothing is unsurmountable, especially for a motivated learner. Every occupation has frustrating moments and challenges, but the energy to persist comes abundantly from intrinsic motivation. Neither your aptitude in math nor your age is a barrier to entry.
That said, certain characteristics will make your path in programming easier and more rewarding. At the same time, the lack of these traits can present additional challenges you will have to work through. Here are some of the crucial ones.
1. You enjoy solving problems
From jigsaw puzzles to crosswords to Sudoku, people spend their free time solving problems and getting a kick out of it. If you are one of them, programming might be a particularly rewarding experience for you since it’s all about solving problems. As soon as you’ve found a way to deal with one problem, two others present themselves. As a rule, there are no ready-made answers, and finding ways to tackle these challenges is your professional task as a programmer. If you find problems with no definitive answers stressful or you feel no sense of success and accomplishment when you solve them, programming might feel like a grind to you. This, of course, will hold you back because there will be no intrinsic motivation.
However, it can be helped. Whenever you solve a problem, no matter how small, take a break to congratulate yourself and savor the feeling of pride before jumping to the next one. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments; your brain will soon get accustomed to this positive reinforcement.
2. You don’t mind researching
Problem-solving doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You will have to do extensive research to overcome new challenges: familiarize yourself with code documentation, look for libraries, and search code-sharing sites like StackOverflow, CodePen, and GitHub for code snippets that will give you the necessary pieces of the puzzle.
In a way, programming is very similar to academia: extensive research, analysis, and logic. The main difference is that you get to apply your knowledge to solve practical problems, which offers immediate satisfaction. Seeing a program run smoothly and making people’s lives easier by one tiny fraction is, perhaps, more rewarding than seeing your theoretical findings published. However, the processes behind those results are generally the same. So if you used to buy assignment for college because you couldn’t stand researching for hours on end, programming would present an equal challenge for you.
3. You like creative tasks
Many see programming as a purely logical, algorithmic activity, which is stereotypically opposite from creativity. However, this cannot be farther from the truth! Yes, computers operate ones and zeroes and exist in a binary, but this doesn’t mean you have to too! Coding is not a test with one right solution. Rather, it offers a spectrum of answers from “great” to “good enough” to “bad” ones. Whether the answer is good or bad depends on the situation and the problem you are trying to solve. In this respect, programming is more like writing poems than doing calculations.
You have to get creative to make a binary algorithm behave in a flexible, responsive way that a human user interacting with it expects. Your solutions can also have elegance and beauty to them that only you and your colleagues in coding can see and appreciate. Having an artistic streak only helps. To quote Arthur Conan Doyle, “Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.” Coding is one of them. I mean, look at Ada Lovelace – her father was the greatest poet, and she channeled this energy into becoming the first known coder in history.
4. You are attentive to details
However, “artistic” doesn’t mean “messy” or “vague” – not in this instance, anyway. Computers are precise machines. One bracket is out of place, and nothing works. A single typo incapacitates code that took hours of work to develop. You have to be very precise and attentive to details when writing code or searching for errors. Know the expression “the devil is in the detail”? It couldn’t be more true for programming.
At WowEssays, we have professional editors to free essay writers from the tedium of proofreading and let them create. As a programmer, however, you will have to hunt for bugs in your code mostly alone. There won’t be anyone to outsource this task to while you are busy with “greater things.” You will have to accept that everything, from the concept vision to execution, to debugging, is your responsibility – and take pride in it. Think of great artists like Leonardo. He used to do everything, from grinding pigments to glazing the finished painting with varnish, because they knew that every tiny detail matters.
5. You thrive in learning new things
People with inquisitive natures are more likely to succeed in programming. If you hesitate with your major because you are excited about so many fields you can’t settle on just one, maybe programming is exactly what you’re looking for. To be a successful programmer, you will have to learn broadly and deeply continuously – as programming languages develop, additional levels of complexity and completely new languages emerge. This is not a field where you can achieve mastery and rest upon your laurels. As the Red Queen said to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.”
Mind you, one doesn’t need to be a huge fan of school to love learning. Maybe you don’t enjoy your schooling because the pace is too quick or too slow for you, your relationships with classmates are less than ideal, classes start too early, etc. Yet if you are excited about the opportunities to learn something new – attending a workshop, reading a book, going on a field trip – then you have what it takes. You should definitely give coding a chance.
6. You are curious about technology
If you don’t know the first thing about technology but are genuinely interested to learn, you can still begin coding. However, if you lack interest, it will hamper your progress. Coder’s curiosity about the possibilities of technology is one of the most motivating factors pushing their career forward. Coding is seeing under the hood of apps, programs, and operating systems. It’s not only about learning how to lay building blocks to create a wall – you must also know why you want this wall here and what it’s supposed to do.
Coding is innovating and harnessing the potential of new technologies to solve practical problems. However, it’s also about loving the beauty of technology for its own sake. If you aren’t particularly concerned with computers and apps, you might struggle to maintain your professional motivation over a long period.
7. You are patient and persistent
If you are patient and steadfast, it helps a lot. However, if you tend to give up when faced with difficulties, you will struggle to succeed as a programmer. You have to accept that you won’t be instantly good at it. It will take hard work and time. As you progress, one problem will lead to several others over and over. That is why it is so important to have inner motivation – to feed your will to persist even when things aren’t working out.
Mastering programming is like climbing a mountain that has no peak. If you are impatient to reach the top, to catch up, you will feel like you are getting nowhere. Instead, you should look back on the distance you’ve already covered and take pride in what you’ve learned.
8. You are resourceful and independent
One usually relies on expert opinion when taking the first steps in anything. It feels like figures of authority must know better, while you, lacking knowledge and experience, aren’t entitled to express or even have your own opinion. We all have these reservations. They are natural. No one likes to be wrong – least of all publicly. However, you must not allow this fear to paralyze you and prevent you from taking the initiative and experimenting.
The most valuable knowledge comes from failure – accept that. If you forever cling to textbook answers, best practices, and expert opinions, you will never learn to stand and walk on your own. Think independently, take risks, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s the only way to develop your own perspectives and become good at programming.
9. You love doing things for yourself
Many people made their way into programming because they needed something that didn’t exist yet – a website that had to look a certain way, an app to do certain things, a digital tool for a particular task, etc. Of course, now user-friendly solutions abound – drag-and-drop website constructors, modular app builders, AI-powered interactive tools, etc. Less and less practical tasks require you to create something from scratch that couldn’t be achieved by combining ready-made solutions.
However, if you are no stranger to tinkering with HTML to make your webpage look exactly the way you want or creating a script to prank your friend with a mystery button in a messenger, programming is calling your name.
10. You don’t get bored by focused thinking
Focused thinking is a very energy-consuming task. It burns calories. It can exhaust our body’s resources. That’s why evolution has invented laziness – to conserve energy. When we hit a barrier with no apparent way over or around it, we tend to phase out, get bored, and procrastinate. It takes an immense effort to keep concentrating on a difficult task. Not everyone has this stick-to-it-iveness innately.
If you get bored easily and often find yourself staring blankly at the screen or switching between the tabs with the StackOverflow forum and the dankest memes, programming will be tough for you. The good news? Your brain is a muscle – figuratively, of course, in the sense that it could be trained with exercise. The more you practice focused thinking, the easier it is for you to concentrate on a problem for longer.
Coding is a diverse field with many options. Whether you seek a flexible work schedule or fixed hours, prefer working remotely or in the office, alone or with a team – you can find a suitable job opportunity in programming. Introverts, networkers, early birds, and night owls – everyone can find their niche. If you are interested in technology, enjoy solving problems and learning, and aren’t afraid of new challenges, you can succeed in this career.